Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pastel Painting in Progress

Yesterday, I posted my wish to start the day with a tree painting. And, I wanted to create something in oil and then one in pastel. In my previous post, you saw the progression of the oil painting. Here is the painting I did in the afternoon / evening in pastel. The scene is from a photo I took in Sudden Valley, Washington -- which is just outside of Bellingham. My friend, Carly Hardy, and I were visiting a friend, Denise Champion, last year in August. She has the most beautiful location to live! They are both wonderful artists, so here are links to their web sites: Denise -- ; and Carly -- .

This June, I went back to visit Denise and take an abstract workshop from Diane Townsend -- the maker of wonderful pastels. The workshop was at Dakota Pastels in La Connor, Washington. I was quite out of my element, but think I might have learned many things. Much of the learning was about art history and abstract art in the past. I believe that after you learn to manipulate the medium, then the next step is to learn what came before you and try to get inside the head of our past master painters!

So here is the progression of the pastel painting.

The painting went through several changes and will sit in the studio for several more days for me to keep it in view for thoughts about what might need changing -- or nothing! And, as always, I appreciate any comments you might have -- or questions.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Oil Painting In Progress

Today, I posted on Facebook that I felt like painting trees. I challenged others to post what they were doing or paint trees today with me. Several have responded they were either painting something with trees, or would. And I had one friend say she was making steel leaves and did that count. Why not, I said. And,  I told them I would post on the blog and it will post to Facebook.

I wanted to start with an oil painting since I have some paint on my palette. Then I wanted to do a pastel. Well, I did not get started until about 11:30 a.m. and have just now quit on the oil painting. Like most artists, I need someone to tell me to stop. After this post, I will go start a pastel painting. We shall see how far I get!

Here are the photos I have taken at various stages of the painting. The painting is a 9x12 on an Ampersand Gesso Board -- quite a slick surface, but this is what I use when I am plein air painting. I have decided I am not real fond of the "laid" look of canvas. I think I will be trying some linen that is a little finer weave to see how I like that. Okay, to the photos!

So there are seven shots of the painting in progress . . .

 now you tell me what you think! I look forward to hearing some comments.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Working in the Studio

So . . . since the last post, I have been trying to work in the studio as many days as possible. This week has been a good one and the end of last week. I have been working on oil paintings: a 3'x4' gallery wrap canvas, an 8"x24" gallery wrap canvas, a 12"x12" gesso cradled panel, and a 12"x16" diamondback cradled birch panel that I gessoed.

The large canvas (3'x4') has been giving me fits. I am trying to simplify subject matter, but in a larger format, I tend to revert to "decorating" my trees. So, I went to the art supply store (Binders in Atlanta) and bought two #18 large filbert brushes. These were only one size larger than what I had, but it does make a difference. Still after using one of these brushes, I am giving the painting a rest while working on the other sizes. I need to study and figure out what it is I don't really like about the composition of this painting. I also think the group of trees on the right are very stiff -- almost like something you would see in an animated film. They are not quite real to me.

Tonight I loaded a photo of it into Photoshop Elements and created a larger shadow area which would connect the trees on the right with the lone tree on the left. I like that better, so tomorrow, I will create more shadow linking the two shapes. Here it is before doing that -- and also a gray-scale image of the painting as it is now.

I'll be sure to show you in another post whatever I do to this painting. Just because I am spending time on it, does not mean it will ever be allowed to leave my studio as a finished piece. I have no qualms about sanding it off and starting another painting! There is a lot to be learned just by doing it. I like some of my brushwork -- mostly on the left and in the middle ground and sky areas.

Sometimes when I am working in oil, I get this feeling that I am a fraud -- calling myself an artist. I actually talked to a very good friend today and told him what I was feeling and of the troubles I felt today. Terry Ludwig is such a wonderful friend and always gives me good advice. He said he had made some pastels in a square and printed on it "artist's block" -- since writers can have it, why can't artists? He also asked me what size brush I was using -- and when I told him #18, he said to extend it with some duct tape so I could stand further away while painting! Good idea.

Now, here are the other three paintings and the gray scale of each one. You can let me know what you think. I always care!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Saturday Demo at High Country Art in Blue Ridge, GA

Saturday, July 10, I will be painting live -- doing a demonstration -- at the gallery that represents me in Blue Ridge, GA. The gallery is High Country Art & Antiques Gallery. It would be a great day trip to the cooler mountains of North Georgia. I will be painting with pastels this demonstrations, so come watch me start new paintings -- and hopefully finish at least one or two. I will be creating paintings in the 9x12 or 11x14 or smaller sizes.

Here a couple of samples of some of my recent work:

The first painting is a scene I created from two different photographs. One had the little farm drive and trees, and the other photo has the barely seen barn and truck. I thought they could be a good combination. This painting is a 16x20 pastel and is framed and hanging in High Country Art at this time.

The next painting is a demonstration I started at the Oglethorpe University when I was sitting for the Southeastern Pastel Society's International Show. I think this painting is finished, but it is unframed and sitting in my studio for daily evaluation when I walk by. This was a photo I took a few years ago at a sunflower farm near Rutledge, GA. I was intrigued by the sun hitting that one side of the little potting shed and what you can see through the windows into the shed.

This is the type of scenery that really draws me in. I am a confirmed "tree" lover and most of my paintings will have at least a couple of trees. If not that, then it will be a scene of rocks and water -- as in North Georgia streams -- the kind you want to take your shoes off and go wading in! Here is a photo of one of my paintings in this type of scenery:

I hope you can come to Blue Ridge and High Country Art on Saturday and watch me create paintings. I love to talk while I am painting and answer questions. It makes me feel good to discuss the process of painting and share my passion with others. People are part of what makes creating art possible. Your pleasure in viewing what I have created is one of the things that keeps me creating. Of course, it goes without saying that I must enjoy the creative process. And . . . believe me I do! I can't wait to see what the next painting will turn out to be. We don't always know. We may have a vision of what we intend, but sometimes the painting itself tells us the direction it wants to go in. I always listen.

Come see me this Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until 4 or 5:00 p.m. in downtown Blue Ridge at High Country Art & Antiques Gallery! Say Hello!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

L. Diane Johnson and "Butterflies: Not the Painted Kind!" Blog Post

Butterflies: Not the Painted Kind!

The above is a link to a wonderful blog post by a friend of mine, L. Diane Johnson. I am reprinting it here with her permission, but not all the formatting will come from my copied portion of her blog. But the link is for you to visit her blog and peruse the rest of her entries. Even sign up for this blog. It will be well worth your time to read. So . . . here is the copy from her text. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Butterflies: Not the Painted Kind!

July 1, 2010
By L Diane Johnson

IF YOU’VE EVER COMMITTED to or been asked to speak in front of a group and had “the butterflies”, you are perfectly normal! Butterflies are good. Stage fright is good. Everything I’ve read by professionals in the field of psychology say, that both of these attributes are normal; actually necessary when confronted with a group. Without these two elements, you’d be dull, look and act uninterested and make those around you feel very uncomfortable. So three cheers for butterflies!

For the professional artist, solo shows seem to be a major trauma to face. I remember my first to the latest show I have been a part of. Some experts say, that if you don’t have some tiny measure of the “willies”, then you may even have a problem. The problem? Not really being prepared to be with/talk with people.

A good place to start is with a small show. If you can participate comfortably in smaller solo or group shows, you just need to work a bit harder to deal with the larger crowds.
People do not believe me when I say I am the quintessential introvert. I am comfortable in crowds but better one-on-one, especially when the center of attention. Nevertheless, once in any group interacting for a few moments, I relax and am just fine. I even end up having a great time. After an event, is when I can get into trouble…reliving, re-evaluating, analyzing and sometimes fretting over an event which is already over! “Did I say something wrong? Did I sound shy or even proud?”, etc. If I had a great time, why do I get depressed and feel so badly after having a fine experience interacting with folks? It really seems silly but this happens. It does not occur as often as it used to. But when it does, I simply let my brain go through it’s gymnastics and it eventually wears off in a day or two.

The Problem?
It’s taken me years, but I still have to work on being in large groups at a solo show in particular. Seemingly, everyone wants a piece of me at the same time. Here is one thing that helps when this happens. When I am the “star” of the show, I try to focus on one person at a time as I speak with them. (Sometimes it’s merely the volume of people that can produce anxiety within me.) It can be brought on by the anticipation of greeting and meeting collectors or talking to other artists. It is sometimes associated with feelings of not knowing what to say. Well of course, I don’t know what I will say…I don’t even know what the questions or comments will be ahead of time! That means I’m putting unnecessary pressure on myself.

What Can You Do?
It’s not fair to yourself to fret over something that has not yet happened.

•Try to relax the day before an event.
•Boost your confidence by reminding yourself that you are the expert at what you do.
•And most of all, remember that the audience is friendly!! They are coming to your show because they want to, not because they have to! Therefore, it’s not a test, but rather, a party.
•Parties are meant to be enjoyed not dreaded. No darts no dragons, just friendly people attending a wonderful show. They are not out to get you, they just want to see and interact with you – the artist of the hour!Trouble Marketing Yourself?

Not good at selling yourself? Don’t like to visit other towns to seek representation? Extend your reach with a physical presence at times to market yourself is a good thing. You may find if you get out in front of people more, the more comfortable you will become. Take your gallery owner to lunch one-on-one. Interact with the staff. The more you communicate with them the more they’ll get to know you; and more apt they will be in telling potential clients not only how great work you do but that you’re a great person too!

Is there Hope for You?
Absolutely. Some artists are extroverted and love the spotlight and crowds. For those of us who have to work at it, here are a couple of books I highly recommend:

Non-Manipulative Selling
Excellent volume! Learn how to sell when it does not come natural, how to “mingle” with people – extremely insightful. This is one of the most “dog-eared” books in my library on this subject.

Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You
Sounds like it may be “psychobabble”, but is a tremendous and practical book for those who find it difficult to socialize easily. This book will show you how absolutely “normal” you are and how being sensitive can be an asset not a liability.

So go for the big shows as well as the little ones. Just as with everything else, preparation is key. Expect to be a bit anxious, full of butterflies and overwhelming, yet all can be overcome! Furthermore, you can have FUN at the show!
Share and Enjoy
----end of my copy of her article---

Diane Johnson is a wonderfully giving artist and teacher. I hope you enjoyed this and please do go to her blog and web site. You will read some good stuff, and see many beautiful paintings. Let me know what you think.